Marianne E. Brokaw
Citino, Robert M. “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction.” American Historical Review 112, no. 4 (2007): 1070-1090.
Robert M. Citino’s “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction” is a well-organized piece written for the scholarly reader. Referencing books authored by a variety of military historians regarding the subgenres of military history, Citino aptly supports in his article published in 2007 his position that “scholarly military history has developed over the past few decades in the very epitome of the big tent” (1070). Citino’s goal is to persuade the non-military historian that the study of military history has evolved to include social and cultural elements and is more than the traditional “drum and trumpet” (1070) historiography of the past. With proving that military history has broadened its scope, Citino is also hoping to persuade other scholars of history and non-history that military-history is a serious and important discipline and should be taken seriously.
Citino begins supporting his argument by explaining the structure of the so-called big tent of history. He lists three categories of military history as of 2007: war and society, traditional operational history, and the newest trend known as memory or historical inquiry. Citino then gives a brief description of each subgenre of military history. These descriptions are intended to expand the scholarly readers understanding of military history and what it is composed of. Citino references works such as Mark Grimsley’s book The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Towards Civilians and Elizabeth D. Leonard’s book Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War to support his claim that military history is no longer the traditional military history of the early twentieth century and prior generations. Although written for the scholarly reader, Citino’s level of organization and manner of presenting this information appeals to the scholarly and non-scholarly reader alike.
Citino dedicates a section of his paper to defining each of the three subgenres of military historiography. For each of these subgenres, war and society, traditional operational history, and historical enquiry, Citino addresses the changes in each genre and what the causation has been for these changes. In addition to providing the reader with his scholarly opinion, Citino cites multiple works for each of his arguments. Citino does not simply use these works written by other military historians to support his views, he references them in hope that the scholarly reader will think deeper and analyze more.
In writing about the newest trend in history, historical inquiry, Citino brings the reader to a place of reality. Citino reminds the scholarly reader that often times fact and fantasy have been intertwined in order to create a story that transcends reality. Citino references Carol Reardon’s book Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory when addressing the subject and legitimacy of memory/cultural history. Citino clearly has issues with the way Reardon retells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg. Citino writes “at issue here is the question of how the nation constructed a memory of that day” (1083). He finishes his critique of Reardon’s book by stating that it was full of “historical ironies galore and moments when the reader can only react with a shake of the head” (1083). Statements like this can only serve the purpose of proving to the scholarly reader that military history is a complex discipline and that military historians themselves have a desire to present military history in the most complete manner.
Citino through his scholarship and his references to others’ works, makes it clear to the non-military history scholar that the three categories or schools of history, intertwine. It is clear to the reader through Citino’s linking of materials that military history would not be complete without incorporating the old traditional operational history with the war and society history with the newest trend of cultural history. In addition, linking the subgenres of each of these three disciplines such as gender, race, and civilian life also adds to the historiography.
Citino closes with a three paragraph conclusion which gives the scholarly reader a concise overview of what the article was about. Citino readdresses the need for a better understanding of military history and its three schools of thought. He continues to support his cause citing other works. However, the article can be summed up in two sentences: “Indeed, military history that does not take into account all three schools (society, culture, and the distinct imperatives of the battlefield) is by definition incomplete” (1090) and “Read some military history” (1090).
“I pledge”, Marianne E. Brokaw